How Jeans Are Made – A Quick Overview

How much do you appreciate a pair of jeans…

Jeans are everywhere all the time. They are by far the most popular choice of clothing around the world. They range all the way from Levi’s classic 501’s to diamond studded jeans valued at $1.3 Million. Yes, that’s right, there is a pair of jeans by Secret Circus retailing at over $1 Million.

No matter your style, it’s important to know where your jeans came from so you can properly appreciate them. I find that when I understand what it takes to go from a ball of cotton to a product on the shelf, I treat my clothes differently. This process has changed a few things for me –

  • I am more careful about the quality and quantity of jeans I buy.
  • I take better care of my belongings so they last longer (not limited to just my jeans).
  • I break in my own jeans.

This quick overview will give you a much better idea for how jeans are made. The full 10 min video is included at the end if you’d like to hear all the details (in a British accent).

How Jeans Are Made

Getting The Cotton – Cotton is grown and harvested.


Cotton is Processed – The raw harvested cotton is run through a sifting machine to remove seeds and stems, resulting in bales of refined cotton.


Carding – The cotton is combed and pulled into a web, then stretched together into thick strands called slivers. Slivers are then pulled and twisted into a fine yarn.


Cotton is Dyed Blue – Cotton strands are dyed blue.


Cotton is Weaved Into Denim – Blue cotton strands are weaved into denim. For most denim, 1 strand of white cotton is weaved into every 3 strands of blue cotton so that it isn’t too blue.


Denim is Prepared for Sewing – The denim fabric is cut into patterns by hand – notice the chainmail glove being worn by the saw operator.


Denim Becomes Jeans – The cut fabric patterns are sewn together by hand and rivets, zippers, and buttons are added.


Some jeans are finished here, but most modern style jeans are “distressed” aka manually broken in. There are several steps to this process which vary depending on the style. A few of these tactics are outlined below.

This is how jeans get their faded and worn look….

Manual Fading – Jeans are slipped onto a pair of rubber legs which fill up with air making the jeans taught. Then they are: sanded by hand, worn around the edges with a grinder, and stained with a spray gun.


Designer Creases – Designer creases are added with a laser gun.


Roughed Up In The Wash – The jeans are washed in giant washing machines along with a few buckets of volcanic rock.


Labeling & Ironing – Finally the jeans are ironed, labeled, and ready to be shipped off for sale.


Full How Jeans Are Made Video courtesy of Discovery:



I am a minimalist, environmentalist, and conscious consumer with a background in environmental studies, conservation, and tech. I founded prch to help others be more sustainable and realize an alternative to consumerism.